The Government continues to foster the development of sports at the community level to provide more opportunities for young people, while tapping into the growing sports tourism market.
State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Alando Terrelonge, in making the disclosure, cited basketball as another area where Jamaicans can excel.
“The supremacy of our athletes, including sprinters, cricketers, netballers, swimmers and footballers has been phenomenal, and it is time we tap into basketball and other sporting disciplines,” he said.
Terrelonge was addressing the finals of the Caribbean Basketball League Championships held recently at the National Arena in St Andrew.
He highlighted the Government’s investment in sports facilities across the island through the Sports Development Foundation.
“We continue to build more multipurpose courts across the country to realise the vision that residents in all our communities must live within walking distance of a sports facility. These multipurpose courts are marked and equipped for basketball, netball and volleyball. In so doing, we can encourage our youth to participate in these sports and build interest,” Terrelonge said.
He said that as youth in Jamaica increase their skill level and participate in competitions such as the Caribbean Basketball League Championships, they will be better prepared and able to attract the attention of international recruiters.
He noted that Jamaica has several young players in Europe, who are earning between US$400,000 to US$500,000 each year.
The State Minister said that sport tourism is a market with infinite potential for Jamaica, citing Australia as one country that has reaped enormous benefits from the industry, which now accounts for an estimated five per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), generating an average of $3 billion each year.
“Jamaica is also perfectly situated in the region, and with little to no visa requirement for players, families, friends and visitors from North America, the Caribbean and Africa, Jamaica can easily become the hub for regional basketball and other sports,” he noted.
“This would boost sports tourism as a major foreign exchange earner while providing an opportunity for more Jamaican youth to display their talents and to be recruited or given academic scholarships,” Terrelonge added.
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